The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Not Good

There are profound political differences between many members of the Democrats and the GOP. These range for the appropriate size and scope of government to America's stance on the world stage, from the role of taxation to the degree of competence exhibited by the current administration, from gun ownership to social issues. Extremists on the Right rail against big government, but then demand government intervention in many aspects of the social contract (e.g., abortion, gay marriage) in their warped view of "family values." Extremists on the Left demonize profit (and often, economic success) and demand a redistribution of income as part of their warped view of "social justice."

The vast majority of Dems and Repubs are not extremists, but because the rhetoric and world view of extremists on the Left resonate with much of the mainstream media and many within the glitterati, their views are often given far more credence than they deserve.

Extremists on the Left are quick to label Mitt Romney as an "extremist," suggesting, for example, that this heartless, greedy corporatist would have "let GM go out of business" (patently untrue) or that he would lead the charge in a "war on women" (laughable) or that he "paid no income taxes" (provably untrue) or that Romney's suggestion that maybe income taxes should be lowered, not raised, is somehow unamerican.

Extremists on the Left obsess over Romney's comments on the growing dependency of a significant percentage of Americans, and see no problem with today's record levels of food stamp use or record numbers of people collecting social security disability payments. They conveniently avoid considering the long-term ramifications of a crippled economy that is getting worse, not better, staggering debt, and a disintegrating foreign policy.

A very small percentage of the President's supporters come from the extremist camp, but they are often the most vocal. When faced with strong opposition, they become vicious, suggesting that any criticism of their guy is somehow unfair, or motivated by racism, or hatred, or "right wing irrationality." They conjure boogie-man images of Grover Norquist or Sarah Palin and try mightily to conflate those images with Mitt Romney. They suggest that a poor, victimized President Obama—the most powerful man in the world—is somehow powerless to overcome the objections of his political opposition and is incapable of negotiating with leaders of the opposition party. They become apoplectic when a media source or a commentator has the temerity to express a harsh opinion about this President. After all, there can be no dissent, Obama is The One.

And they may have the right strategy. Polls (notoriously unreliable, but the only data point we have at the moment) indicate that the election remains very close. It may be that the cult-like status of this president may overcome his atrocious performance and usher in another four years of Barack Obama. But then again, maybe not.

In a cutting critique of Barack Obama, Yale Professor David Gelernter writes: "Remember that Obama has demonstrated the competence of Carter with the integrity of Nixon." Ouch! When the President's supporters read comments like Gelernter's, they levitate with rage.

But why?

At the end of the day, a president should be measured by his results (not by his charisma, or his smile, or his celebrity friends, or his state of cool). If those results are poor, harsh criticism is not only expected, it is obligatory in a vibrant democracy.

Barack Obama is not in his first 100 days as President. He has been President of the United States for almost four years. He owns his results, and his results are not good.